It has genuinely been over a year since we last saw the sea, and that has taken its toll in an odd, un-definable sort of way. So when Son 2 announced: 'I want to swim in the sea every day of this holiday!', I decided to support him in this challenge. We were staying with Ben's parents last week, in a gîte only a few kilometers away from the Atlantic coast, in the Pays Basque.
The people of the Pays Basque of France are linked by language, culture and blood to the Spanish Basques known for their terrorist connections (actually - they have declared a permanent ceasefire, did you know?), but although the French Basques are strongly independent they welcome tourists so that people can learn about their unique heritage. They speak a languge that pre-dates any other European one, which mainly seems to consist of the letters X and Z, if road signs are anything to go by. They build (yes, they still build them) big white houses with red paintwork - originally the wood was coloured with oxblood.They make cider, catch fish, grow and weave linen, play pelota and sing passionate songs for tourists and locals alike.So, what did we do?
We went up a steep mountain (La Rhune) by train, and came down it on foot...
We hunted for, and found, fossils on a sloping cliff we'd discovered when staying nearby a few years ago.Ben's parents took the boys to the aquarium in Biarritz and Ben and I took the opportunity to walk around the town and see the sights...I took the dog for a walk to the local village, and found a beautiful church (possible Basque first and Christian second, I felt...)
And past the traditional Basque gravestones of the churchyard, I spotted the Cidrerie du Fronton, where Ben's mum booked us in for a quite stunningly traditional, delicious and enjoyable meal at communal tables (du cidre à volonté !) on our last evening.
And yes, Son 2 did swim in the sea every day - sometimes with his dad and his granny, often with me, and, on our last day, with everyone in the family together in the surf! A wonderful holiday.
Tomorrow, the boys go back to school - yes, it's the rentrée! In honour of this yearly event, I will be holding my now-yearly Rentrée giveaway. Do pop back over the next few days for resolutions and the chance to win some goodies. And thanks so much for your comments and kind thoughts while I've been away. It was wonderful to be there, but now it's great to be back.